Japanese poultry industry comes under scrutiny

13-11-2017 | | |
Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Animal welfare protest groups are calling on Japan to preserve animal welfare standards at the Tokyo Olympics taking place in 2020.

The Animal Rights Centre say they are deeply concerned about the rearing of both broilers and laying hens in Japan – a country where perception and understanding of animal welfare issues is traditionally low.

In a report released this week, Animal Rights Centre says broilers in Japan are slaughtered at 50 days at around 3kg and that the rearing density in Japan is 1.4 times higher on average (46.68kg/square metre) with a maximum of 1.78 times higher (58.99kg/square metre).

In Japan, 16 to 22 chickens with an average weight of 2.94kg are placed into a space of one square metre, while the maximum rearing density in the UK is 33kg/square metre according to EU legislation.

It is also critical of the poultry slaughterhouse system in Japan, saying many abattoirs do not use the stunning method.

“Birds are shackled upside down and have their throats cut while they are fully conscious…. Although the scalding procedure is supposed to be done after chickens have been killed, 2015 data shows that 279,195 broiler chickens were boiled alive in Japan.”

The report says 92% of laying hens in Japan are in battery cages with 99% of eggs sold in the country from this system. The space per hens on these farms is 444.7 square cms – smaller than a sheet of B5 size paper and smaller than the chickens themselves.

“Moreover, there are still some farms that restrain each chicken in a solitary cage where the bird has nothing to do,” it added.

The welfare group says that while the London and Rio Olympics showed consideration for the welfare of animals, the Tokyo Olympics appeared to be a very different story.

“In their desire to produce meat, eggs and milk to be consumed at the upcoming games, the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is seeking to greatly reduce the standards of treatment and husbandry of farmed animals.”

It is appealing for people to sign a petition on the change.org platform which will be sent to the International Olympic Committee.

Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist